A Palestinian terrorist convicted of the attempted murder in December 2017 of a Jerusalem security guard was sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison and ordered to pay NIS 200,000 in compensation to his victim.
In its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court noted that Yasin Abu al-Qar’a’s stabbing of Asher Elmaliach was an act of premeditated terrorism “extreme in its severity.”
On December 6, 2017, Al-Qar’a, 25, from Wadi al-Fara outside Nablus, “decided to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem in protest at the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” the court said.
Graphic video footage from the scene of the attack four days later, on December 10, at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, showed al-Qar’a slowly handing his belongings to security supervisor Elmaliach, 47, who was helping other guards check travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest.
Al-Qar’a then tried to flee the scene, but a police officer and civilians chased him and tackled him to the ground.
According to the charge sheet in al-Qar’a’s December 28, 2017, indictment, on the morning of the attack, al-Qar’a “said goodbye to his loved ones on the phone,” purchased a knife and illegally traveled to Israel in order to carry out a terror attack.
After hearing US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the recognition decision, “the defendant planned to stab as many Jews as possible until he was killed and turned into a martyr,” the indictment read.
The sentencing decision on Monday said al-Qar’a had planned “a mass attack” inside the busy station, “which was disrupted by the alert security officials.”
Elmaliach was stabbed through the heart and one lung, and was rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital in critical, life-threatening condition.
His condition was another factor noted in the Monday decision that argued for a stiffer sentence. According to the sentencing document, Elmaliach suffered severe post-traumatic symptoms following the attack that impaired his ability to work and led to a “sudden and dramatic” decline in his quality of life.
He was hospitalized for weeks attached to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO, which takes strain off the heart and lungs by performing some of their functions, removing carbon dioxide from the blood and resupplying it with oxygen. After his release from hospital, Elmaliach spent a long time in rehabilitation and physical therapy.
According to the court, al-Qar’a bought an 11-centimeter knife in the northern West Bank, hid it in his coat, and made his way to the city of Hadera, taking advantage of a permit that allowed him to enter the “seam zone” along the border of the West Bank, as he had worked as a construction worker in the Harish region.
Concerned about traveling on a public bus without a legitimate entry permit into Israel, al-Qar’a paid NIS 500 ($140 at the time) for a cab ride from Hadera to Jerusalem.
During the ride, he wrote a will on his phone.
Once he reached Jerusalem, a little after 2 p.m. on December 10, al-Qar’a approached the central bus station.
He was stopped at the door by Elmaliach, who asked him to go through a metal detector before entering. The detector went off repeatedly, as al-Qar’a had the knife hidden in his coat.
At that point, the charge sheet said, al-Qar’a determined that Elmaliach was Jewish and “decided to stab him to death.”